Ease the Stress; How to Make Stress your Friend

Stress, who would have it! It can cause many unwanted, and in some cases debilitating mental and physical symptoms, which can have huge negative impacts on our lives. So who would want stress and how can we be rid of it for ever? Well I am here to answer this question and the answer is everyone should want stress and you cannot and should not strive to get rid of it. You are probably thinking I am absolutely mad but please do read on so I can explain what I mean. Much research has shown that stress is bad for you and quite clearly confirms the negative effects it has on your health and well-being. However, Health Psychologist Kelly McGonial in her 2013 Ted Talk ‘Make Stress Your Friend’ explains it is our mindset on stress that dictates how we respond to. And our response dictates whether it has a positive or negative effect on us. And not only that, but stress can actually be healthy for us if we learn to handle it the right way. It is a fascinating talk and explains the biological processes that our body goes through in times of stress and why our mindset is so important.

Changing our mindset is not always easy, especially when we are in the thick of it, but the tips below should help you to make a start to a blossoming friendship with stress.

Finding abundance in your life and creating a gratitude attitude increases happiness, which in turn makes it easier to deal with life in a positive manor. When you start to feel like your world is going to stop spinning, ask yourself the following question; ‘What is going right for me in my life at the moment and why am I grateful for it?’ Write your answer down in a journal so you can remind yourself on a daily basis. Creating a gratitude attitude takes practice to begin with, but the effort is worth the positive effect it has on dealing with your stress. Try writing in a journal everyday three things that you feel grateful for. So get counting your blessings however great or small.

Finding perspective and having an eagle eye view of your life will help you see the wood for the trees, find solutions and respond to stressful situations with clarity. Take the problem away from your inner being by asking yourself the following question; ‘If a friend came to me with the very same problem, what advice would I give to them?’. This will help you to detach from any negative feelings, get perspective on your situation and become more solution orientated. When we create solutions, stress becomes a motivating factor, rather than a debilitating one.

Finding a happy balance between your commitments and fun time helps to keep negative stress from tipping you over the edge. Start by introducing balance points into your day. Positive Psychologists have found that small and frequent times of happiness during your day leads to an overall stronger and consistent feeling of fulfilment. A sure fire strategy to responding well to stress and buffering any negative effects. A balance point is time spent actively engaging in an activity that gives you a sense of harmony or happiness. It may be a cup of coffee, a 10 minute meditation, a daily conversation with a friend, eating good food or reading a book. Anything that you can do easily and gives you pleasure. You may like to read further tips to creating a work / life balance.

Finding habits that support you and making the time to practise them so they become unconscious positive habits. These habits help build resilience and tackle stressful situations with determination over fear. A good way to start doing this is to write down 10 healthy daily habits that you are willing to commit to right now. These may range from cooking a healthy meal everyday, doing some stretching whilst brushing your teeth, cleansing your face every night, writing a gratitude journal before bed or setting balance points at certain times of the day. When you have committed to 10 then diarise when you will carry each habit out throughout the next day. Do this daily for at least a month (yes it takes that long to create a new habit) and before too long you will realise you are carrying out all these highly supportive habits without a second thought, freeing up more headspace and building resilience. So ban negative stress through creating positive habits!

Finding meaning in your life is wonderful way to reach out the hand of friendship to stress. It is well known in the Positive Psychology field that doing activities that promote meaning in our lives leads to greater fulfilment and in turn increases longer lasting feeling of happiness. All of which will help us keep that positive mindset on stress. If a lack of time is an issue for you right now add a small meaningful activity into your 10 daily positive habits, it doesn’t need to be volunteering in far off war torn country necessarily for it to have a powerful effect.

For more information on coaching for stress management then please do get in touch. I would be more than happy to talk this through with you.

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